Returning back home after mostly road games to start league play, the Centralia volleyball team defeated Shelton in four sets Thursday night, 23-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-14.
The Tigers took an early lead in the first set, up 14-9, but after a Shelton timeout lost all momentum and dropped a tight set, 25-23, with 15 unforced errors in the set. After a tough start to the second, Centralia finally turned it around with renewed energy to take the final three sets and the win.
The Tigers served an absurd 27 aces in the win, which is the most aces in a match coach Marti Smith can recall in her time as the program head.
“We talked about needing to finish and that’s exactly what they did,” she said. “We know what we need to do in the second half of league if we want to attain our goals, this is just one check. Proud of the girls, they’re a fun group, and what I really got to see tonight was our leaders stepping up, did a great job talking between sets and did what they needed to do. It was nice to see some of the girls take that role instead of relying on coaches to tell everyone what they need to. That growth and maturity. Really proud of our seniors.”
Gracie Schofield had 11 digs, Alayna Mcgregor served up five aces, Emily Wilkerson added a big night at the net with four blocks and six kills, and Hollynn Wakefield had five kills.
Leading the Tigers were a strong duo at the net in Lauren Wasson — who had 11 kills and 11 digs with seven aces on 21 of 22 serving — and Tatum Johnston, who had 12 kills. Senior setter Peyton Smith also stuffed the statsheet with 14 digs, 29 assists, and eight aces on 27 of 29 serving.
18 of the Tigers’ 27 aces came in the third and fourth sets.
“Wasson was all over the court tonight, she did a great job in our serve receive and defense,” Marti Smith said. “Our two middle hitters Tatum and Emily really stepped up their game tonight, it was nice to be able to attack out of the middle, it helps relieve pressure on our outsides. Peyton Smith did a great job distributing the ball and giving our hitters opportunities.”
The Tigers will take on rival W.F. West next on Tuesday in Centralia, after dropping their matchup to the Bearcats earlier this season in Chehalis in five sets.